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British hat designer Stephen Jones to speak at MOCAD byMauricio Gutierrez

The name Stephen Jones may not ring a bell, but his creations will. Musicians, models and fashion icons from Madonna to Princess Diana have worn his hats.

Jones will be in Detroit on Oct. 16 at the Museum of Contemporary Art to talk about his craft at the first "Icons + Lunch" event. One of his hats will be auctioned.

While his claim to fame are the over-the-top hats, he also designs hats that are meant to be worn everyday. Beanies, fur-trimmed hoodies and baseball caps are part of his Fall-Winter 14 collection.

For him, hats can make you happy, or at least make you feel better. Jones feels that "when home is not so good or things are falling apart, how you dress is something you can control. Clothing can put a spring in your step. A hat is the most powerful of all things."

Jones did not always want to be a milliner. In fact, he remembers being an astronaut when he was a boy.

"I was a late developer, I went to St. Martins (College) and I was doing women's fashion and my tailoring tutor told me 'If you don't get extra help you will fail.' " That stern warning changed his life, and he became an intern at a couture house which had a millinery room.

But as Jones recalls it was "not the work, but the mindset. They had a fun time." It was love at first sight, and he found a mentor who gave him the most valuable lesson: "A hat would never be made in any particular way, you have to find your own way."

She taught him the rules of millinery, but also gave him permission to break them.

His hats are more architectural pieces than accessories, and he mentions architecture as his source of inspiration. "Architects work against gravity, turning something quite heavy and making it light and airy."

While he is Detroit he is looking forward to driving around the city and looking at the buildings being repaired, visit Cranbrook and in particular the Saarinen house. But what he looks forward to the most is to meet Detroiters, because even a simple conversation may inspire him.

Jones has always liked Motown style, and he remembers being about 10 years old, "learning the Temptations moves. And hating the Beatles." And he laments that of all the celebrities he has designed hats for, he has never done one for Diana Ross.

Sunday hats are a common sight around Metro Detoit. But colder weather is coming and that is the perfect time to start wearing hats.

"Women can wear hats every day," Jones says and he recommends a simple barret or a fedora, something in smaller scale, for everyday wear. "What about a Monday morning hat." he proposed.

He explains that women around the world wore hats during the 1950s. "My grandmother thought that if you were out without (a hat) you were mad," he recalls.

Not since Jacqueline Kennedy has a hat been a First Lady trademark. Yet for all that Michele Obama seems to enjoy fashion she never wears a hat. If he were to design a hat for Obama, it probably would be a small pale blue hat, "maybe on the back of the head, maybe like the one Kennedy wore."

Jones may have not become an astronaut, but his style and vision has changed the way we think about hats, even as we aren't aware of his name. Just like his mentor, he has given us permission to think of hats as objects of self-expression that break the boundaries of what is traditionally considered a hat.

Thank you to Detroit Free Press for this article, click here.

Kim Fletcher Millinery Art Spring Showing 2014

Click Here for all the images from the Kim Fletcher Millinery Art Showing

Stephen Jones: ‘Every youth movement has its drugs – ours was fashion’ by C Piers

Stephen Jones: ‘Every youth movement has its drugs – ours was fashion’

The milliner, 57, on being gay in the 80s, making hats for horses, and how everything he experiences gets used in a hat

Every single thing I do gets logged in my brain and eventually gets used in a hat. Whether it’s a conversation, the colour of the sky or the smell in the air. I grew up in the Wirral peninsula. It was our house, then the road, then the sea. All I remember is the sunset and the sky and the water – it still inspires me.

Boarding school helped shape my career. Aged 10 I went off to [board at] Liverpool. It made me very bloody-minded and made me think that if you want to have something you have to go out and get it yourself. But it also taught me reliance on one’s friends and how to work with a group of people.

Children are intrigued by watching people put things on their head. It’s a primary act of being. When I made hats for the Princess of Wales, I would go to St James’s Palace and her two young sons would be fascinated by what was going on.

Every youth movement has its drugs – ours was fashion. After art school I lived in a squat on Warren Street in London with 20 people. We were always stealing each other’s clothes. Boy George lived there for a while, Grayson Perry was always over. In a funny way it was like boarding school.

I feel very privileged to be alive. I never thought I’d turn 30, let alone 40. I grew up as a gay man in the 1980s in the advent of Aids and HIV. We didn’t really know what it was and suddenly people were dying. So many friends in London and New York passed away.

L’Wren Scott continues to be an inspiration for me every day. I often think: “What would L’Wren think of this?” and remember times we had together and have a chuckle. We met when she was a model in Paris. When she started going out with Mick Jagger, I began to make his hats.

I didn’t come out to my parents until I was 40. My mum went a bit crazy, but then she met my husband Craig [Jones’s partner of 25 years] and realised he was a new son-in-law and fresh meat. So she started asking him to put up shelves.

I’m still friends with John Galliano. We don’t see each other much, but we text. It’s been a very long journey for him and I don’t think he’s over it yet. He hit rock bottom, so he now has a chance to get better.

A quick death is great, but then you may not say the things you want. Just before my father died he hadn’t spoken for a month. I had a one-sided heart-to-heart with him and apologised for not going into the family business. Out of nowhere he said: “We never imagined you would.” There I had been thinking he was this uncool tyrant when he was on my side all along.

I’ve made hats for horses, hats for dogs. The strangest hat I ever made had dry ice in it, which is incredibly dangerous, as it can burn you like acid.

Hats can transport you to another place. So that girl at Royal Ascot who’s wearing a giant hat, a fuchsia dress that’s too tight, heels that she can’t walk in – maybe that’s the one day she really goes bananas. We need more of that in the world. 

Stephen Jones is stocked at Dover Street Market (doverstreetmarket.com)

Thank you to The Guardian, Click Here.

Millinery Shapes and Style for 2014

More than ever you will be seeing Veiling, including well constructed pieces around the eyes. Go for a stiffened look and not a whimsical piece of lace. Veiling over the eyes has been sported over the past couple of years, but now we are looking for stronger stiffened pieces.

Different Shapes such as the Mohawk that has been sported in the past couple of year, but taking a contemporary look at your headwear rather than traditional shapes can make a stand out statement. Make sure your Millinery has been made by a Master Milliner as these pieces can look very costume or home made if not made correctly with statistics that will balance correctly.

Above Stephen Jones Millinery for Louis Vuitton

Above Mohawk, Kim Fletcher Millinery Art 2014

Lace is going to be everywhere this year, as so many Milliners have been taught this technique over the past year. It will be important to keep your lace very individual to your outfit or subtle. Too much lace this season will be an overload. Say goodbye to lace ears and any ears of for this season it is outdated for 2014.

Goodbye to Lace ears and ALL EARS.

Art is the main focus for 2014 when you look at D & G painted dresses and the look of oil painting is going to be huge. I sported a POP Art Inspired Hat at Darwin Cup and has has immense positive feedback. Keep pop art cool and fun. If you wear an outstanding hat make sure that the outfit is toned down to keep the hat the focus.

Head for ART,  Pop Art, Impressionist, Surrealist, as long as it is painted or has the feeling of Visual Art inspired, it will be a hit.

Goodbuy Gatsby, Gatsby was the trend that really had to be done before it was a trend. So the cloches and jewelled headwear are to stored for party looks and night club attire.


There is huge controversy in Millinery at the moment simply because there are so many calling themselves Milliners. I think go with what you know. I purchase hats that I know will be investment pieces, but I do expect to pay for them. A good hat that will last the distance of time will set you back around $800 but you will be wearing it time after time. I add up how many times I wear a piece and divide it. So thus the wear if I wear it 5 or 6 times comes down to $120, $150 per wear. The cheaper pieces are not always so well constructed and you expect to pay from $200 - $300 per hat. Sometimes they are not going to last the distance, but for a fashion item, you may only be able to wear them a couple of times and are usually out by the next season.




Felicity Northeast Millinery

I was always interested in textiles and art while growing up, many a weekend was spent on a new

creative project. However as a career, I followed my other passion in science and enjoyed practising

as a Paediatric Dietitian.

Throughout this time I continued to sew and do short courses in a number of textile areas, including

silk painting, pattern drafting and the good old knitwit. It was after attending a Millinery exhibition

that I realised the enormous scope of this art and I enrolled in a few short courses. I then went

on to complete cert 4 in millinery at Kangan. I had a range of fantastic teachers including Louise

Macdonald, Serena Lindeman, Kim Fletcher and Peter Jago, whose enthusiasm was infectious.

I continued working as a Dietitian, when I started my millinery business. Each year I would take off

more of my holidays around Spring Carnival (great work agreement!) and then the passion took over

and now I am only doing millinery

1. As a young lady were you attracted to hats or an era?

I was generally attracted to the current fashion, but as I sewed most of my clothes I would

hunt for interesting materials and trims. I often used upholstery materials and would indulge

on buttons.

My interest in hats began early in my working career. I can still remember my first hat I

bought for the races. It was from a milliner and I splurged! Yes, a few years later I pulled it

apart to see how it was constructed.

2. What was your defining moment that you decided you wanted to study Millinery

Further eg: Kangan

After a few short courses in millinery I was hooked, as I realised how many textile and

sewing techniques could be incorporated. I loved the idea of being taught by different

Milliners, all passionate and inspiring, with their own style of millinery. I had always taken

extra study as a Dietitian so, taking on further study for millinery at Kangan just seemed


3. Your collections have been unique, classic and distinguished, how do you describe

your work and what inspires you?

I aim to make pieces that are artistic, stylish and elegant. I focus on the shapes, structure

and lines within the piece and want the trim to compliment these. But I love a few special

details on a piece such as gorgeous stamen or some vintage netting

My main inspiration are the materials themselves, just seeing how they flow and how you

can manipulate them. I really enjoy experimenting with fabrics and techniques and seeing if

I can just use them a little bit differently.4. What are your favourite fabrics/mediums to use?

My favourite fabrics are vintage: Japanese hand painted silks, braids, straw clothes or fine woven

straws. I love blending these materials with contempory ones to give the hat a modern feel. I am

also fascinated how colour, colour combinations and different textures can totally change the

feel of a piece.


5, You won a 'trifecta' or 'Hat trick' on Blue Diamond day with your hats. 3 in all 3

categories taking out all the winning positions. How amazing and special is it and please

elaborate on your clients.

It was totally unexpected as I was only aware that one client was entering (and she decided to

change categories at the last moment), so it was wonderful surprise. I generally attend this race

meet, as I love catching up with people after the hectic spring carnival (and actually see a race).

The millinery is only one component of FOTF, those ladies styled their outfits beautifully, but it

was great to share in their excitement.

6. Your work is becoming more and more seen. Your work is very individual are you

aware of the following you have?

No not really, too busy with millinery and life, but with social media you get these little nice

insights when people you weren’t aware following you make a lovely comment.

7. Your enthusiasm with your hats is infectious, this must be such a rewarding career. How do

you feel making hats?

It certainly is a passion and does take over. I love the textiles, the scope within this art, the range

of learning from millinery to social media and business. You can create a piece in so many ways.

It’s great that’s it’s an art that can been worn and that when my clients are wearing a hat they

are generally having a great time

8. When designing do you have a customer in mind as your hats suit all ages?

When designing I do think about what my clients, but not necessarily their age group. Within

each collection I will include hats that will suite different face shapes, a few different themes

and different feels, so I can meet the needs for the lady entering Fashion on the Field to those

attending a business lunch during Spring Carnival. I often have in mind the current fashion and

trends and which type of outfits will go with a particular piece. But it’s even better when a client

sends in a picture and they combined the hat fantastically well, often in a different combination

then I had envisaged.

Even though I do plan each collection, some hats do evolve differently than first thought and I

will let it take me on that journey. Sometimes they are the best.

9. What are your goals and aspirations with this craft

To continue and improve, and to keep developing my own signature on Millinery. Saying yes to

projects that I hadn’t planned, such as doing a piece for The Johnston Collection exhibition and

working with various Australian artists on The Manyung Gallery Art Series.When I started, I was certainly not aware where this journey would take me and my supportive



10. What is beauty to you? Nature, City, Gallery, Coffee, what is your muse?

I love wallpaper and textile designs, they are creative but also have that element of repetition.

The work of William Morris and Florence Broadhurst are few of my favourites.

Our typical holiday is bush walking in a national park, a great way to think of ideas and be

inspired by the flora and landscape along the way. One year I swapped heels for hiking boots

straight after Oaks Day and 12 hours later we were hiking Cradle Mountain.

A good coffee and music helps too.

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